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Having To Explain Geocaching To Local Police


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Has anyone ever been in the compromising position of having to explain to police or other law enforcement( rangers, deputies, security persons) just what you are doing while looking for a cache? I work 3rd shift, so often stop to look for caches on my way home @ 0615/0630, while it's not quite all the way light out. There are times I think that if police drove by, I would certainly be suspicious looking, crawling around, turning rocks over or groping signposts/ fences,etc. Just wonder if anyone has been spied...

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It's come up in the forums quite a bit. So far I've only been busted by regular folks. The approache I would use is the same. Tell them about geocaching. Stealth is for not getting caught at all. Once caught though it's time for the truth.

 

The police can be both a great ally and a great detractor to geocaching. Having them on our side is far better than not.

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I was checking on my remaining night cache last week. When I returned to my car, there was a sherriffs deputy and a local cop waiting for me. They were very curious what I was doing so I whipped out a copy of the geocaching brochure and explained. They both were interested and I wouldn't be surprised if the deputy shows up as a noob cacher.

 

The local cop seemed more concerned with my safety than anything else.

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Ditto with the straight answer to the local law.

 

We have enjoyed explaining "just what the he!! are you doing?" several times now.

 

After explaining - and even showing them - where the cache is, what is inside the cache container, how the game is played we have never had a problem. Some times we get strange looks and shrugs of the shoulder, as in: Whatever.

 

Most of the time they take a sheet of information and or write down the web address. I have no idea if any have joined in yet but at least I have not had to explain myself to their boss yet.

 

logscaler.

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Has anyone ever been in the compromising position of having to explain to police or other law enforcement( rangers, deputies, security persons) just what you are doing while looking for a cache? I work 3rd shift, so often stop to look for caches on my way home @ 0615/0630, while it's not quite all the way light out. There are times I think that if police drove by, I would certainly be suspicious looking, crawling around, turning rocks over or groping signposts/ fences,etc. Just wonder if anyone has been spied...

I work in law enforcement and have never been stopped by the police. If I was in my town and got stopped though, I would just tell them who I am and where I work and explain what I was doing...no problem.

 

If I got stopped in another jurisdiction I would just tell them who I was and what I was doing...and show them my police ID. :huh:

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We have several caches along the border so there are times when we know we are being watched. :P We once even had a border patroller come and find out what we were doing. After we told her, she told us the area was off-limits to civilians. When we got home, we contacted a fellow cacher that works BP to find out what is up. He said the area is not off-limits but those BP just didn't want any one else around. Talk about over-stepping one's authority! :huh:

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We had two police officers follow us into the woods! It is a little shocking when a police officer suddenly appears on the trail right in front of you and says accusingly, "Whadda ya doing?" And then another officer appears from a different direction! We politely explained what we were doing, showed them the cache page (actually gave the page to them, since we didn't need it anymore) and by the time we got back to our car, one officer had become so interested he said he was going to try geocaching with his son!

 

I guess they had the right to be a little nervous. We didn't realize it but we were about 60 feet from a fence that protects Hanscom Air Force Base with our backpacks and suspicious looking handheld navigational devices... oops!

 

Hartwell Town Forest - Goldfinch's log

 

Hartwell Town Forest - Darkshade's log

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Thanks for the link to the flyers and cards to carry. We encountered a person of the law who felt concerned about camo painted plastic containers and thought they looked suspicious and if we hadn't explained. . . wish we had the cards at the time. He called it in and someone else must have heard about geo caching cause he came back with a warning about the ticks in the area.

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Here's my log from Mississippi High :

 

I turned off Hwy 72 one road too soon and pulled over to check the map when I realized what I had done. A Sherrif's Patrol car stopped and the officer asked if I needed some help. I explained that I had just turned too soon and he asked where I was headed.

 

I told him I was trying to get to the top of the mountain. He was quiet for a minute, then said, "Why would you want to go up there?"

 

My response was that its the highest point in Mississippi and I've never been there before.

 

Quiet again. "You must really be hurtin for some sheee*t to do." Then he told me the easiest route to the top. Only route, really.

 

Found the cache in the dark. Wish my flashlight had been in my pack...

 

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Here's my story from the R/C Plane Crash Cache (GC91C3):

 

June 19, 2003 by IntotheWoods (286 found)

Hoo boy. Third of seven for the day, this was the most interesting. After finally finding the right road in to the R/C plane field, I met a police car just before the railroad tunnel. He pulled to the side to let me pass (one lane road), but as I went to do so the two officers inside stopped me to ask where I was going. When I said I was geocaching, they looked at me as if I had three heads. Fortunately I had the cache printout with me, and handed it over to them to peruse as I went through a brief explanation. They seemed satisfied and let me go, but I wondered why they seemed so suspicious... The rest of the hunt was uneventful until I found the cache. I was just writing in the log about my experience with the police when an ATV approached. Being in full view of the trail and not wanting to give the cache away, I attempted to hide in the bushes. Didn't work. The rider spotted me anyway, and lo and behold it was another police officer! He demanded to know what I was doing, looking at me very suspiciously. Once more, I put on my friendliest face, handed over the cache page, and gave my 30-second geocaching speech. This officer appeared to have more than a passing interest, so I told him that if he was interested he could check out geocaching.com! I really was dying to ask why there seemed to be so much suspicion on what seemed like a regular Thursday morning in an unremarkable stretch of woods, but I decided not to pry. I even bought the local paper to see if any fugitives were on the loose--nothing. Oh well. So I guess half the Merrimack Police Dept. knows about this cache now (not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing)! Left something, took something. It was an interesting morning, to say the least!

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Yeah...this happened to me not too long ago. I was just standing there on the sidewalk just waiting for my GPSr to settle down before moving out. An officer comes up and asks me what I'm doing. I went into EXTREME detail about gps, time, atomic clocks, satellites, etc.... I could see the officer's eyes just glazing over. I was quickly left alone. :unsure:

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I am a park ranger and I'm sure glad I found the cache in the park I work at. While on patrol I mostly have to deal with drunks, parkers, litterbugs, and vandals so I was relieved to see some positive recreation going on in the parks for a change. I tried the hobby out and became hooked myself.

Now if I see someone headed to the cache when I'm on duty I'll sneak up on them and say something like "I'm sorry park ordinance N43 20.200 requires that you can only trade quality items at this cache site no McToys are allowed here."

After they get over being stunned and looking like deer caught in the headlights :blink:

I introduce myself and we have a good laugh. :o

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Being an officer, I have gone and staked out a known cache to see who some local cachers are. After contacting them and grilling them about thier so-called hobby, I let them know that I also cache. Soem of the stories I have been told. Plus sneaking up on them is a lot of fun!

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Being an officer, I have gone and staked out a known cache to see who some local cachers are. After contacting them and grilling them about thier so-called hobby, I let them know that I also cache. Soem of the stories I have been told. Plus sneaking up on them is a lot of fun!

Oh, man, that's just wrong! ... but funny.

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Once I was night-caching as park confirmed where it was OK with a buddy, after finding a toughie, he called home to find the police had noted the car parked at the edge of the highway and called her!

 

She told them we were hiking there and they just were glad the car hadn't been stolen. They said if we didn't check in to let them know and they'd recover us! Haha..

 

Then there was the time at an event I snuck up on some night cachers in the dark, got close, beamed my light at them and demanded, "HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!"

 

They responded with "Yes Sir!" and started fumbling for the cache page and notes...

 

Enjoy,

 

Randy

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Yeah, I wish I had had one of those printouts - I was on my second cache ever and a park ranger parked at my car and over her loudspeaker announced that if I didn't return to my car, it would be ticketed and towed. I came running out of the orange grove I was in, carrying my 1-year-old son. She was quite suspicious and asked me what I was doing. I stumbled around the explanation and finally said, Have you ever heard of geocaching?" She had, so that saved a lot of sheepish muttering. Turns out I had parked in a no-parking zone and I was told to move. I was also warned of the park closing in another 20 minutes and I never did find a way to go back and park legally, without dragging my son down a ravine, across a stream and through some really thick brush to get to the cache. Oh well. :lol:

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I did a cache (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=d83753a9-d36c-4c90-9d84-415e62d9049b) out not far from the main gate to area 51 in Nevada where you are pretty much being watched the whole time (You can always see the guard truck that follows you as you get closer to the gate). That cache is still there but I'd be amazed if it hasn't been checked out by the security there. How cool would that be if they left some stuff in the cache one day?

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Not caught by police but the Rangers for the park... It was a cold, cold afternoon and I was searching for a location to place a cache, as a staggered back acros the field I was in, I was way toooooo cold, I saw the rangers truck pull up next to my car. He was smart, he sat in his nice warm vehicle and waited for me. Luckily it was the nice ranger, we have a coupe that are ...... well..............challenged when dealing with the public. Anyway he asks what I'm doing, I tell him, he nods and then says "Can't you place it in a County Park?". And he left.

 

Since that day I have seen him several times, GPS'r in hand. I think they finally have given in to the fact that cachers are of no real harm. Plus we pay the parking fees.

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Haven't had a run in with any law enforcement ourselves, just with ordinary curious citizens a few times. We usually show them the print out of whatever cache we're hunting for and explain a little about geocaching. But thanks for that link up there - that would come in handy!

 

As for getting stopped by cops or rangers - sounds like most have pretty good stories to share. More than likely it depends on the cop and his mood. Most would be ok with it, some might just be negative about everything and have a bad attitude, who knows. Like the park ranger a few posts back - it must be nice to come across a cacher rather than a drunk, or other mischief maker for a change.

 

This does remind me of my funny cop encounter many years ago - I had been caving with friends (we went after work all the time in the summer), and by the time we came out of the cave it was past sundown. We got back to our cars which were parked just off the road, and a sheriff deputy pulls up, obviously suspicious of this group of people in muddy coveralls and helmets/headlamps. <_< We explained what we had been doing and he commented, "Caving? Isn't that dangerous after dark?" We all suppressed snickers and giggles and answered that it's dark in the caves pretty much all the time - sunlight makes no difference! :lol:

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I was pulled up by plain clothes police in a park in London (England)....I was recovering a micro cache on a piece of string down a drain.....there were people in the park but they were a long distance away....these people were police though, and although i thought i was being discrete they thought i was suspicious. They came over and asked what i was up to and explained who they were, i told them what i was upto, luckily i had the cache page with me to help explain as they had never heard of geocaching before. They weren't too bothered, although they did ask me to disable the cache because of hightened security and they didn't want people fishing things out of drains. Good to see they are security aware :o .

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My son and I were searching for one in a neighborhood park a couple of weeks back and we finally found it after looking in, under, over everything we could think of. I guess we looked suspicious enough to one of the neighbors for them to call the cops.

 

So here my son and I are dismantling this rather large pipe "device", hiding behind a wall (so we aren't spotted - or at least THINK we aren't) and a police officer walks up behind me and says "So what's going on here, guys?" After me handing him one of those brochures (same ones linked above) and seeing my son pulling out toys and showing him that there was nothing else inside the pipe - not to mention some straight-forward honest (and lengthy) explaining of what it was all about, he finally smiled and told us to have a nice day.

Edited by BuzzKill
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i was in a school owned nature preserve looking for a spot to place a cache when about 100 yards in front of me i see a bunch of cops with their guns drawn. yes - i freaked out and put up my hands, but they werent after me. one officer stayed back with me while the others continued to look for a reported hunter. a hunter withing 500 yards of houses!! anyway i explained what i was doing and the officer already knew what i was talking about, so i left

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The other day I was caching in Michigan at a multi cache in a park in a residential area. I was at the second stage and lookin around when some guy comes up to me and starts yelling at me because he thinks I am harrassingthese two young girls in this yard. I tried to tell him what I was doing but it didn't work so I had to walk off and leave the cache for another time.

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came close the other weekend ... trying to find a cache which is between lake michigan and a power plant ... I'm told there is a public trail between the two from a nearby park, about 1/2 mile hike ... I kept driving back and forth in my van trying to figure out why the GPS kept telling me I had to be by the power plant ... on my last attempt I decided to turn around where the regular road meets the gated drive to the power plant ... just a get your car off the road and backup right away to go the other direction ... as I was doing this the local sherrif came by ... he stopped his squad ... then he looked at my kids in the back seat and drove on ... my heart was going a little faster.

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I am very big into Benchmark hunting. One day at lunch a discovered a Triangulation Station set in someones front yard. With permission I recovered it. The Azimuth Mark was also on his property up the road aways. He gave me permission to look for it also.

 

The next day a lunch, I tore over there and proceeded to hunt for it.......about 35 feet off the road in a brushy field. After awhile I looked up to find a County Sherrif coming towards me.

 

And here I stood with a 13 inch "T" handled stainless steel probe (Impaling Tool !! ) and an Entrenching Tool! I must have looked suspicious !

 

He was OK......as stated above, he was worried about my safety.

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We have been stopped TWICE. Once at dusk (they thought we were kids drinking)

and once at about 11pm doing a " :blink: night cache :laughing: " (THEY ARE THE BEST !!) Explained the entire thing, they shook there head (a whatever floats your boat shake) and told us "good luck and be safe" C&E

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We've been lucky so far; a couple of Muggles to tell various stories to, but only one recent brush with the law. The log:

July 7 by Bear_Left (218 found)

Well, that was interesting...

I went in to have a look at the depth of the water, thinking that I could just grit my teeth and wade to the island, and was wandering along the bank with my little torch shining in the water.

Then this police car pulls up (there'd been several cruising around, but it's pretty close to HQ, so I didn't think much about it) and a torch is shining in my face and a stern voice is asking me what I'm doing.

"Just wandering" I reply, innocently.

"Why are you carrying a torch?"

"Too see with. It's dark!"

Here's where he started sounding stroppy, so I came clean and told him I was geocaching, sort of like a treasure hunt using a GPS. I was asked to turn out my pockets, so GPSr, torch, swap (luckily nothing too silly!), keys, PDA, etc. all went onto the grass. The lack of guns and crowbars, and my obvious amused willingness to help mollified him, and he told me that they were looking for someone right around here and I was just "in the wrong place at the wrong time." He also told me that there were a couple of police dogs working in the same area and could I approach this treasure from another direction? I assured him that I was happy to go completely away, given that dogs were no longer trained to go for the left arm, but for the groin nowadays!

So, this one can wait for another day (or night.)

I was expecting the cold, but not the heat!

-Papa Bear_Left

 

Haven't been back to that one yet, and neither has anyone else! :D

Mind you, it's winter here in Christchurch, NZ and not really ideal river-wading weather...

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Only once so far. It was a little east of Nashville. I had seen a police car pull in and take a look at my car, but then he left. When I returned after finding the cache that I was after and had just driven off two police cars pulled in behind me with lights flashing. I did have to explain what Geocacing was and they seemed satisfied. They explained to me that where I had parked my car was a favortie spot for stolen car drop offs.

 

As someone else said, its good to know that the police really are keeping their eye on what is happening on the local scene.

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A fellow geocacher in Canberra, Australia got caught.

Geocaching VERY close to Parliament House, Canberra, Australia

 

His log -

April 24 by 2 Leg Drive (178 found)

******

Parliament house security log.

24/04/04.

*Spotted but not apprehended.

A man carrying a GPS receiver, a single piece of paper, a digital camera, and a $1 scratchy.

*Distinguishing features.

2 legs,

*Other information.

He was heard to be whooping out loud. "I've won $2".

******

I had a bit of time this afternoon as I have a week off work.

Picked out the clump of bushes fairly easily, but finding the cache was another thing.

I spent about 10 minutes poking around all the obvious spots, but no luck. Then to make things interesting one of the security guards on a bike rode up past where I was looking and gave me a good long stare. Then about a minute later another one pulled up in a car and came over and asked me what I was doing. Dam. I tried telling him about caching but he did not seem very impressed. Dam geomuggles. Any way he said to me that my suspicious actions where drawing a lot of attention to my self. Double dam. So much for being discreet.

I like the idea of this cache, but maybe the location is a little risky. Hope that I can get a chance of having another go when I'm invisible.

 

 

He had a job living it down for a while - see other logs earlier than his (they refer to his activity).

 

I'm sure he won't mind me posting this - it was all humour later.

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It was so refreshing to read these stories. I am a Deputy Sheriff and I too worry about being stopped by the cops. I know for me and the other cops and rangers here to I.D. ourselves is easier because we have that certain I.D.

 

All I have to say is no need to lie. You are doing something totally legal and if bu chance you happen to be tresspassing, well the cops have bigger fish to fry. Most all will tell you to leave. You never know it may be me someday who has to stop you. Now wouldn't that be fun!!

 

Ken

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I don't know about anyone else, but, I am keeping up with my stops for "potential terrorist activity" on my profile. Got one so far... Of course, the good old days are over, we just pulled into a driveway to check driving directions, and didn't think anything about it being fortified like FORT KNOX! So, to make it short and sweet, don't check your directions at a WATER TREATMENT PLANT, no matter how interesting you think the sculpture out front looks! When the two police cars go by, one of them WILL follow you and pull you over.... eventually... But, not to worry, he will let you go to check out the call of suspicious activity on the bridge a few miles over, um... do you think that was us???? Well, we WERE just looking for a cache near a bridge... and um.... that one at the cemetary behind the AIRPORT! Wellllllllll, I DID get a yellow Jeep TB out of it :blink:

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It was so refreshing to read these stories.  I am a Deputy Sheriff and I too worry about being stopped by the cops. I know for me and the other cops and rangers here to I.D. ourselves is easier because we have that certain I.D.

 

All I have to say is no need to lie.  You are doing something totally legal and if bu chance you happen to be tresspassing, well the cops have bigger fish to fry. Most all will tell you to leave. You never know it may be me someday who has to stop you.  Now wouldn't that be fun!!

 

Ken

It's very refreshing to hear the truth... :blink: ...Tell the cop the truth. It's good to get a reminder once in a while that there are decent folk out and about...Maybe engaging in slightly odd activities, but decent... :lol:

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Yeah and as soon as I posted that I go out get stopped and asked what I was doing! I didn't have my I.D. with me and I didn't take my weapon with me. Good thing because he said he was looking for people out shooting.

 

But I knew he was lying because I asked if he ran my car he said no but later he said yes. I had seen him behind my car from the top of the hill where I was at so I knew what he was up to from what I would have done in my early years as a cop. I am not so gung-ho now.

 

Oh and BTW I diddn't find that cache!

 

Ken

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I routinely cache at night and have occasionally been stopped by the police. I always explain geocaching and let them examine my papers and GPS. Most of the time they are very helpful and even ocasionally offer to use their searchlights to help find the cache. I've finally reached the age where I just don't look like I'm up to no good anymore. Am I happy? :blink:

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Funny you ask.

Why just this morning , as a matter of fact!

My second such experience. This time, we were close enough to show them the container and take their picture.

They turned me loose without even a warning.

It IS best to be honest and upfront with them!

Edited by Kfam
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Not quite caught, but close. I was behind a grocery store in a mall. I checked all the obvious spots for the cache, and all that was left was a phone junction box on a telephone pole. Just as I was about to dismember the box, a police cruiser sauntered by. They eyed me with great interest, but I feigned a coffee break on the nearby lawn and they passed by. The cache was there, I was happy to find it, but I knew I would have had some serious explaining to do if they had caught me red-handed (probably at the station). I didn't like the cache placement - seemed like vandalizing phone property. B)

Edited by Juan E Cache
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Just thought I would share this with everybody. When I leave my truck especially at night in a parking lot I have a sign made up that I stick in my drivers side window. It simply states that this truck is not abonded and I'm geo-caching in the near by area and it list the official web page and my team name. I've had several cops pull in to a parking lot look at the note and simply leave. I've even had one that checked the note and left, he came back to the lot about 40 minutes later and noticed my truck was still there. He then intered the woods just to make sure I hadn't fallen or gotten hurt. I didn't have to explain anything to him. He had stated that he wished all area cachers did the same. He said they would leave us alone at night as long as they knew what we were up too. SDome of you all may want to try this as well. It helps. Atleast it draws less suspicion.

 

If anyone wants a copy of the pne I made just reply and I'll gadly sent it to you. It looks very official and like I said it seems to help.

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